Fault lines around WADA’s decision to reinstate Russia’s doping control agency, RUSADA, have only grown since that mid-September development. The public discourse has featured not just accusations and counter-accusations but also indictments of 7 Russians for crimes related to computer hacks and theft of confidential athlete medical records.
Russia Appeals IAAF Stance
Alone among sport-specific federations the IAAF has refused to line up behind WADA’s Russia reinstatement, leaving in place its suspension of the Russian federation (ARAF) first imposed in November of ’15. In early October ARAF filed an arbitration appeal with CAS seeking readmission as a member of the IAAF.
CAS will hold a hearing, as yet unscheduled, on the appeal. For now the IAAF remains committed to its position that Russia must meet two as-yet-unfulfilled requirements of WADA’s original terms: 1) admit to the substance of the WADA-commissioned McLaren report, that government officials in Russia’s Ministry of Sport and an intelligence agency participated in a doping coverup scheme; 2) Turn over past testing sample data from its Moscow lab, also suspended in ’15, for a full audit and analysis.
IAAF President Seb Coe, speaking at the Youth Olympic Games, told Agence France-Presse the IAAF Council’s decision on Russia’s membership status will “probably” be made at a meeting scheduled for December 3–4.
WADA, too, has insisted that Russia provide the past sample data from its “laboratory information management system,” by December 31 or face a renewed suspension of its anti-doping agency. Apart from this, an outside audit of current RUSADA operations will be conducted in December, and the agency’s CEO, Yuriy Ganus, is confident the findings will satisfy WADA. “We have met all of the requirements following the previous audit and keep up with our work,” Ganus told TASS, Russia’s state news agency.
In early October the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed an indictment of seven Russians it purports are agents of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency. The charging document alleged the accused were behind the 2016 Fancy Bears hacker group’s cyber-attacks on sports federations, anti-doping agencies and athletes for the purpose of stealing confidential medical records.
In that scheme to discredit prominent non-Russian stars, Fancy Bears leaked lists of athletes granted permissible therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) by anti-doping bodies along with other stolen confidential information.
In comments to ESPN about the charges, Scott Brady, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, refused to mince words: “This began with a disclosure of Russian state-sponsored doping programs for its athletes. In other words, Russia cheated. They cheated, they got caught, they were banned from the Olympics, they were mad, and they retaliated. And in retaliating, they broke the law, so they are criminals.”
The indictment also alleged hacking of a U.S. nuclear energy company and an NGO investigating chemical weapons attacks. Subsequently Swiss officials announced they will prosecute another pair of Russians for crimes including a cyber-attack on WADA. All of the accused in both cases are believed to be in Russia, safe from extradition. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissively called “American pretentions to leading the fight for clean sport” nothing more than “unfair competition.”
WADA “Bullying” Raises Athlete Ire
Retired British legends Paula Radcliffe & Daley Thompson and Australia’s ’12 Olympic 50K walk gold medalist Jared Tallent have lent their voices to an upwelling of athlete displeasure with WADA’s restoration of Russia to its good graces and alleged “bullying” behavior at the September meeting where the decision was made. Beckie Scott, a Canadian cross country skiing gold medalist who has served as chair of WADA’s Athlete Committee told BBC Sport that unnamed WADA Executive Committee members at the meeting treated her “with a level of disrespect and comments and gestures which were inappropriate.”
Scott, an opponent of Russian reinstatement, termed the treatment she received “indicative of a general attitude of dismissal and belittling of the athlete voice at the table. There was laughter when I read the list of Athlete Committees who had produced statements and who were confronting the decision. At the time it was upsetting, and on reflection it’s a tactic, a maneuver and born out of a long-standing belief that athletes don’t have to be part of this conversation.” As reported in this space last month, in the wake of the September meeting Scott resigned her position on the Compliance Review Committee.
Radcliffe strongly criticized the IOC and its Athlete Commission for tardiness in looking into Scott’s allegation. “[Scott is] not politically minded—she is looking after the rights of athletes and I think the same sadly can’t be said for all of the athlete institutions that are out there,” the marathon WR holder told insidethegames.biz.
Tallent—who finished 2nd in the London ’12 walk but was later elevated to gold by the retroactive DQ of Russian doper Sergey Kirdyapkin—has called WADA “not fit for purpose” over recent events and has thrown his support behind a proposal to reorganize the anti-doping agency.
The always outspoken Thompson opined that WADA should be disbanded and replaced, telling Reuters, “A lot of the other sports I think have done a disservice to their athletes. Russia hasn’t complied to some of the instructions that they were given in order to get back into international sport and I think that they’ve all capitulated… for whatever reason. I think that athletics has been the one true defender and I’m proud to be part of that family.”
USADA chief Travis Tygart was also scathing in his reaction to the situation, telling insidethegames.biz, “While the rest of the world condemns the bullying behavior mentioned by Beckie Scott, the silence at the top of the IOC combined with its failure to condemn state-sponsored doping and criminal hacking of innocent athletes tells you everything you need to know about the power at the top of the International Olympic Committee of 2018: desperately out of touch.” □